by Jill Kemerer
You’re sitting at your desk in front of your laptop, and every word you write takes a lifetime. We’re talking two, maybe three, words per minute. You hate those words. Delete them. And you’re right back where you started. This might last an hour, a day, a week, a month. Who knows? But when you’re in a struggle session to figure out the next sentence, your daily word count suffers.
Whenever this happens to me, I procrastinate. Then panic.
And all I can think is that I hate writing.
The longer I stay away from the manuscript, the more I loathe the thought of returning to it.
Call it writer’s block or just another day as a writer, but it’s not fun. How can we meet our goals if we’re staring at a laptop screen, scarfing down M&Ms, and the only thing coming to mind is duhhhh…
The book will not be written. Goals will not be met.
This happened to me regularly until about three years ago. I managed to finish all my projects on time, but I wasn’t looking forward to writing the way I used to. In fact, I dreaded actually writing the first draft.
I decided to come up with a strategy to eliminate as many of those struggle sessions as possible. How? By reading how other writers overcame them and by experimenting to see what would work for me.
I needed to be able to consistently stay in the groove when writing a draft. So I read productivity books written by authors. The two below really stuck with me.
First of all, I highly recommend the book 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron. The Kindle version is only $2.99. It’s a short, informational book full of personal insights and tips. It helped motivate me to increase my daily word count.
I also recommend Allie Pleiter’s The Chunky Method Handbook: Your Step-by-Step Plan to WRITE THAT BOOK Even When Life Gets in the Way. For $4.99, the Kindle version is full of great advice.
After studying the above books, I realized my momentum in a draft stopped when I didn’t know what would happen next. Now, I’m a plotter, so I know where the story is headed. But I don’t know every scene in advance. It was those in-between scenes that were stalling me out.
Pantsers, I imagine, have the same problem. They’re discovering the story as it’s being written, and when you aren’t certain what direction to take, it’s hard to move forward.
This was an easy fix for me. After each writing session, I simply brainstorm the next scene. I decide whose point of view it needs to be in, where it is taking place, the basic idea of what is happening and how the scene will further the story. Then I think ahead to the following scene and sketch out its details.
Brainstorming the next 1-2 scenes at the end of a writing session takes me less than ten minutes. I’m no longer floundering around trying to figure out what happens next. Now I quickly jump into my draft every day because I know what I’ll be writing.
alone helped me increase my daily word count because I wasn’t wasting time.
I didn’t stop there. I was intrigued by the premise of Rachel Aaron’s 2K to 10K book (see above). I’m a math girl. Before I read her book, I typically wrote between 2000-2500 words a day. I know this because I keep a log of every writing session.
I keep three logs for every book. One is for plotting, one is for writing, and one is for revising. For the writing log, I note the date, number of pages added, number of words added and the total word count to that point. This gives me an overview of how long it really takes for me to write a book.
It wasn’t hard to see that if I could write more each day, the book would be finished in less time.
Since I’d figured out how to ACTUALLY WRITE and not stare off into space wondering what comes next, I began to experiment with word count. And I realized something that wasn’t flattering.
Every day I started too late, and I quit too early.
Now, I’m blessed to write full time. I know many of you are fitting your writing in around full-time jobs, children, spouses, hobbies, and other important things. We all have demands on our time. But I had to take a hard look at how I was spending my work days, and when I did, I made some changes.
I organized carpools for my kids’ practices. I exercised earlier. Planned my chores around my writing times. I cut back—way back—on interacting on social media sites. I still check in a few times a week, still blog, still send out a monthly newsletter, still promote my books. For me, social media is a low-energy task, an easy distraction, and it was hindering me from meeting my true goals.
can sell copies of your book, you have to write it. It’s just the way it is.
I created blocks of time for writing. I also set aside a block each weekday (for me, late afternoon is ideal) for all the other stuff writers do, like writing this post! And I pushed myself to get more words on the page every day.
I realized writing 10,000 words a day isn’t something I aspire to, but 5000 words a day is doable. I also realized I needed to schedule a day to review what I’d written so far about midway through a draft. This helps me keep all the threads straight in my mind.
Writing is my job. I treat it like one. And because I treat it like one, I stay ahead of my deadlines. This allows me to meet friends for coffee once in a while or play hooky to visit a museum or the library. I love having the freedom to make my own schedule, but I never allow it to become a free-for-all.
If you want to increase your daily word count, start by jotting down what has to happen in the next 1-2 scenes at the end of each writing session. Log your word count and the time you spend writing EVERY SESSION. Then push yourself to meet bigger goals until you find the number that seems to fit your life best.
You CAN increase your daily word count. And when you do, don’t be
surprised when you experience a renewed love of writing. I’ve fallen in love
with the process all over again. And you can to! Mindy here. Jill is giving away a copy of her brand new release, The Cowboy's Christmas Blessings.
Mindy here. Jill is giving away a copy of her brand new release, The Cowboy's Christmas Blessings.(Paperback for US, ebook for International) Simply leave a comment to be entered.
The Cowboy’s Christmas Blessings
Will welcoming them for Christmas have him wishing for more?
Judd Wilson lives a solitary life…until he learns Nicole Taylor and her infant triplets need somewhere to stay. The cabin on his ranch is the perfect solution, but now his quiet Christmas alone feels a lot more crowded. Recently widowed, Nicole questions her swiftly developing feelings for Judd, even if the older man is wonderful with her babies. Is she ready to take that leap again?
Purchase The Cowboy’s Christmas Blessings
Jill Kemerer is a Publishers Weekly bestselling author of inspirational romance novels for Harlequin Love Inspired. Her essentials include coffee, M&Ms, a stack of books, her mini-dachshund, and long walks outdoors. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two almost-grown children. Please visit her website, jillkemerer.com.